By Geoff Fein

The Navy is looking to open up competition on its long running Acoustic Rapid Commercial-off-the-shelf Insertion (ARCI) program and intends to release a request for proposal (RFP) this year for the effort, a top service official said.

“We’ve learned a lot over the 10, 11 years. We have been running the business. The contractor that runs ARCI integration for us has been doing it for a long time,” Rear Adm. William Hilarides, program executive officer (PEO) submarines, told Defense Daily in a recent interview. “We are going to make them compete to keep the job.”

Hilarides currently has two competitions open right now. The first is for the AN/BYG-1 submarine combat system. He said the solicitations are out and Team Submarine is waiting for contract award.

The other effort is for the Integrated Submarine Imaging System (ISIS), the electronic part of the boat’s optical systems, Hilarides said.

Team Submarine is also waiting for word on that contract award.

And then there is the solicitation for ARCI.

“The pre solicitation for bids on ARCI is out…and we anticipate the RFP will be out here shortly,” he added.

Hilarides said he couldn’t run all the solicitations at the same time.

“I had to deconflict them. I couldn’t be competing all my integrators simultaneously because I still have to put ships to sea,” he said.

Lockheed Martin [LMT], which is currently running the ARCI effort, is the string integrator for only one of the five strings in submarines sonar. But the company handles the integration for all of the sonar strings, Hilarides noted.

For example, the string for High Frequency active sonar comes from the lab at the University of Texas (UT). They deliver the advanced development work and then Lockheed Martin figures out how to make it work in the architecture, Hilarides said.

“And when something doesn’t work, Lockheed Martin doesn’t just do the work, they tell the government and the government decides how best to go about it, whether we hire Texas or Lockheed Martin, the government stays fully involved in pulling the deliveries on the program as that goes through.

“So the string integrators compete and they have changed out over time and the main integrator will also have to compete to keep their jobs,” Hilarides added.

On the BYG-1 side, there are two strings of BYG-1: Tactical control and Weapons control. Right now General Dynamics [GD] is tactical control and Raytheon [RTN] is weapons control, and the integrator for both is General Dynamics, Hilarides said

“We are competing that whole set of functions and we’ll see where that comes out,” he added.

“Ideally, from my point of view, I have three companies who understand how our processes work: Raytheon, General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin. At the end of all these competitions I would like to still have all three of them in the business,” he said. “Because if I lose one of them and they don’t have any business for a number of years, when I go to compete it’s unlikely they will be able to be up with everybody and ready to go compete at that level.”